CAD and other Standards for LA’s in an Engineering Company

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE CAD and other Standards for LA’s in an Engineering Company

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    Can someone share the secret for establishing company and CAD standards for a landscape architect division in a largely engineering firm?

    Also, be sure to check out the new group created– “LA in an Engineering World”. It sounds like there are more of you out there… would be interested in connecting with you… any feedback, tips, etc are appreciated!

    Andrew Spiering

    Great question. I was just about to post something about layer management and naming. I don’t know about setting up Cad Standards in a multidisciplinary firm, but it seems that you should follow a similar format to the other divisions in your company. This would eliminate any confusion for them when you share files. For example, the Civil layers would be C-xxx, Architects would be A-xxx, and Landscape would be L-xxx. Line weights and pen files should all match, as well.

    I am finding that it gets really tricky when the lead on a project imposes their standards on an office. For example, I am working on a project where the lead is having all of their consultants use their Cad Standards. This would be fine if it were one project. But it is highly inefficient when you have multiple projects and multiple standard floating around in the office.

    Not sure if that helps.

    Eric Galvin

    Yes, i agree xref’s are the key. We have 1 cad technician here and he has set up a layer standard for himself and the engineer. i didnt want to muck up their system, so i worked with him to set up a drawing for each project that xrefs in their drawing into a new LA sheet that has the layer system i work with.
    This link has some standards that the parkservice uses for thier drawings (i didnt find it real helpful, but you might)
    Civil engineers and architects seem to have great Cadd standards that are broad and are based on deliberation from their respective organizations, but as usual, LA’s are a bit behind the times and our organization doesnt have any (they may, please correct me if this is the case, i havent found them though). Good luck –


    Well, after years of trying to design their own naming conventions in the company, they finally resorted to a national reference:

    And now that I look at it, it looks more comprehensive than I was being told. In addition to layers I was also looking for input on folder/file organization in multi-disciplinary companies, details formatting (reference note leaders vs. just leaders and text only), and even tips on communicating with engineers (sometimes I think, that they think I’m just crazy). Thanks again for all the input!

    Andrew Spiering

    One firm gave us these standards using NCS layer naming recommendations:

    “The creation of layer names shall follow the NCS layer naming recommendations. The 14441
    format shown in the NCS/AIA guideline shall be followed.
    For more information or when creating new Layer Names – please refer to the Section 7 of this manual
    A -W-A L L-FU L L-DE M O – M
    C – R O A D – C U R B – B A C K P
    • The first place is a Discipline Designator letter. See section 3.05 of this manual for a list of Discipline Designators.
    • The second place is the Major Group.
    • The third and fourth place is a Minor Group field modifier preceded by a dash.
    • The fifth place is a Modifier used to describe the Status Field Code as it relates to the items on that layer. See the Status/Phase Modifiers section of this table for a list of Codes.”

    Layer names can get way too long with this method, but it is clear. I prefer adding a zero to my layers so they appear on top. For Example, 0L_Pav.

    Gil Lopez

    Cad standards do seems to be a contentious issue when design professionals collide. I worked in a multi-disciplinary firm for a bit and got the sense that the engineering side actually had a less evolved system but the fact is that neither departments really meshed with the other. We had our cover sheet and CAD standards and they had theirs. Thus separate packages for each project. When it came time to settle on one standard no-one wanted to change their ways. This speaks to the need to either start with the same standards or take into strong consideration the pre-existing standards when starting up a new department.
    I don’t guess there is a secret to it, or a perfect system for that fact, but there are some pretty common points that should be addressed.

    Pen Settings – most offices I’ve worked at use the standard pen width standards from the local repro house:
    Red 0.18 mm
    Yellow 0.25 mm
    Green 0.35 mm
    Cyan 0.50 mm
    Blue 0.6 mm
    Magenta 0.7 mm
    White 0.8 mm
    #8 0.9 mm
    #9 1.0 mm
    #11 .25 mm (50% Screen)
    Anything after that just seems extraneous to me.

    Standard text font(s) and heights should be agreed upon. These should be used when setting up the various dimension styles for all the scales that you intend to work at.

    Paper and model space – I’m an advocate of setting up sheets in paper space with a viewport and a titleblock x-reffed in. I also like to create multiple tabs for multiple sheets in one file (not too many though) as opposed to laying out sheets in model space. This, I’ve found is a highly debated point. Others take this a step further creating layer states for hardscape, landscape, lighting, irrigation, etc. then using the one file for everything. I like the idea but find that those who disapprove of multiple tabs wont even entertain the idea of multiple layer states. Either way it should be addressed.

    External references are good. They should be used wisely though. I see no reason to scale an x-ref or insert it anywhere other than 0,0,0.

    Naming Files – Since I’m into brevity, I like to name x-refs with the project number and a 4 letter abbreviation of the information the file contains separated by an underscore. (1234_land.dwg) or an abbreviated project name (which always seems to change) with the 4 letter info qualifier (stpe_irrg,dwg) The same would apply to sheet files but I like to separate the 2 qualifiers with a dash so they sort themselves out in an alpbetical list. For example you take the project number and sheet number (1234-L100). In order for the cover to show up first in should be 1234-L000 or 1234-LA000 or the like depending on sheet number prefix preferance.
    As evidenced above sheet numbering is another important consideration. Use a prefix with a 3 number? 5 digits with a decimal? different prefixes for different sets of plans? So many methods for this exist I am not going to begin to suggest one in particular.
    File structure is important. A separate folder should be created for each project. A file hierarch should be derived and stuck with. This is a whole nother can of worms and set of standards.

    A block library is one of the best time savers you can invest in. A generic cover sheet, standard details, landscape and hardscape symbols and tags, detail callouts, etc. A standard title blocks for different size sheets should be copied and manipulated for each project and phase. I like to insert these as x-refs rather than blocks though.

    Layer management has already been discussed.

    I suppose this only scratches the surface but I have already defenestrated my preference for brevity so take what you like and leave the rest. There will still be issues that need to be addressed. Every project is different but hopefully a good set of standards can keep the chaos and confusion down to a minimum. Good luck

    Jay Everett

    If you’re in an AutoCAD firm, not Microstation or AchiCAD…

    Then I recommend LandFX software for irrigation/planting plans and details, unlike other add-ons to AutoCad (like Civil3D) you dont need landfx to actually see the blocks, and as long as you dont explode or copy them you can move them around, (in case you have to trade files with the engineers.) Setup can be a bit of a pain if your company has prexisting pen settings, I was able to follow the instructions and incorperate our company’s into landFX’s.

    Somewhat of a learning curve but now that I understand the software, definately woundnt want to do an irrigation plan without it, since it assists with flow calcs and allocating zones and comes with blocks for all major heads/spray patterns in the industry (Rainbird/Toro/Hunter) it even has drip.

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